I just got back from a showing of the film Miss Representation. It’s a film focussing on gender inequality in the US, with particular focus on the media.

There were some useful awareness-raising snippets of US radio and TV and some statistics that surprised me and that I am pleased to have learned about, but other than that, I wasn’t happy with the film. It definitely seemed to be presenting some theses, as well as just raising awareness: it said a lot about capitalism and gestured at the interaction between free speech and the regulation of media, and put forward some ways in which we ought to modify the current education system to increase awareness—but there was also talk of instilling different values, about achievements (this very easily falls into talks of careers, and a focus on careers definitely requires defending if put forward).

The problem was that these theses weren’t at all clear, nor were they argued for. The only point I can recall where you could string yourself together an ethical argument was a bunch of studies that have shown increased violence as a result of seeing violence in the media, and statistics about eating disorders and self-harm; these things are bad, so one can argue that something must be done. But there was no such argument.

No creative work can avoid presenting opinions, it seems. It is possible to appear as if you’re not doing so, but this film definitely didn’t go down that route, and so it ought to have been clearer in what it was trying to say.